As a result of their objections, the benefits to responders have shrunk: from over $7 billion, as originally passed by the House, to $6.2 billion as proposed by Senate principals, to the $4.2 billion passed by the Senate today after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) threatened to derail the bill again.
Despite these reductions, New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand hailed the final version as "The Christmas Miracle we've been looking for."
GOP objections may have diminished the legislation, but they also provided Democrats with unusually potent political fodder -- which they will likely draw on ahead of the 2012 elections. Earlier this year, Republican objections to the legislation fueled Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) spitting mad rant on the House floor.
The 9/11 first responders bill is the last piece of legislation the 111th Congress passed.